would agree that the internet plays an increasingly important role in our
everyday lives. As a result, any change that impacts the regulation of the
internet quickly becomes a newsworthy topic.
term “net neutrality” is the principle that service providers must refrain from
treating traffic on the internet differently. Regardless of whether a user is
streaming video or posting pictures, service providers must not block or
discriminate against content or applications.
Communications Commission (FCC)
net neutrality regulations were passed in 2015 during the Obama
administration. The goal of the regulations was to ensure the internet remain open
and fair. On February 26, 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by
reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The purpose of the rules was to preserve
the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of
expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without
permission. Essentially, the FCC elected to regulate broadband service as a public
with the regulations, internet service providers were prohibited from discriminating
against online content. More specifically, internet service providers were not
allowed to regulate traffic from specific websites or put their own content at
an advantage over rivals. This made intentionally speeding up or slowing down
traffic from specific websites or illegal. For instance, AT&T could not slow
down a service like Netflix to put its own streaming video service at an
advantage, nor could it force Hulu to pay more money to receive faster streaming
In a victory for
internet service providers all over the United States like Comcast, Verizon,
and AT&T, the FCC voted to repeal the regulations past in 2015 that
prevented broadband companies from blocking or slowing down access to websites
At its monthly
meeting on December 14, 2017, and despite widespread opposition and a request
from 18 state attorneys general to delay the vote, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai,
who was appointed by President Donald trump moved forward with the vote. In a
3-2 vote, the repeal proposal passed, removing the net neutrality regulations
put in place just two years ago.
This vote eliminates
the regulations banning internet providers from blocking or slowing down online
content. Thus, Comcast, for instance, can now charge customers who use Netflix
an extra for using so much bandwidth; AT&T can, in theory, decide to block
access to some websites entirely; or Verizon, which owns HuffPost’s parent
Company Oath, could hypothetically decide wireless customers won’t be charged
data when they’re viewing HuffPost content. The FCC has also eliminated the regulation
barring internet providers from prioritizing their own content. Without the
prohibition on these activities, internet providers must openly disclose any examples
of blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization. Whether the actions are illegal
or not will be based on whether the activity is anti-competitive.
In addition to
repealing the net neutrality regulations, the new FCC rules also strip state
and local governments of the power to enact their own laws regulating the
How Wil Repealing Net Neutrality Affect
First, it is
critical to understand that the consumer will not notice an immediate
difference in the internet now that the FCC has voted to repeal the
regulations. The FCC’s repeal must first be published in the Federal Register
before it can go into effect, which is not likely to happen until early 2018.
However, it is unlikely that your internet experience will be instantly
different than it was before the appeal.
Any changes to
be implemented are likely to happen over time as companies begin to change
business models and services. Although services like Netflix and Hulu will not
disappear overnight, advocates for net neutrality worry how the repeal may
impact the new, younger services. Jump-start companies may struggle to contract
with internet service providers and pay to have their content delivered. This
could fundamentally alter the future internet setup and the market as a whole.
It is important
to recognize that the repeal could change how customers are billed for the
services they use. Without net neutrality, internet providers are now legally
able to pursue similar offers more assertively.
What is Next?
net neutrality have long argued that, without these rules, internet providers
will be able to control traffic in all kinds of anti-competitive ways. Supporters
have pledged to continue the fight in court. After the FCC publishes the repeal
order in the Federal Register in early 2018, we can expect lawsuits to be filed.